Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 ★★★★

"We'll all fly away together... one last time... into the forever and beautiful sky."

As Florence Welch sings over the jubilant final scene of this film, the dog days are indeed over for the MCU, at least for these two and half hours here. James Gunn, the magnificent bastard that he is, and in his swan song with Marvel before he heads off to retool and revitalize Warner Bros' DCEU, has staved off the awful, no good, very bad few years that Marvel Studios has been having since Avengers: Endgame ended an era and thus began a Phase Four that has been a consistently mediocre mess at best. So, thank God for these guardians of the galaxy; they know how to give us a story!

The simple fact is that in filmmaking - even superhero filmmaking - sincerity and pathos win out when they're done right and this one here has it in spades. In the breadth of story of the MCU, it's this island of misfits toys that grabbed our heart from the very beginning and never let go. And never more so than here in their final story as we finally get Rocket's full story that proceeds to rip our hearts before trying to put it back into place before we move into the white light of beyond ourselves.

Nevermind that the film is slightly unsuccessful in being a whole lotta movie - being a bit disjointed and overlong - we care about these characters, we have since the first time we met them, and Gunn makes sure we're aware that this is the final time we'll see them altogether. Every scene pretty much relays this and it's executed as perfectly as it can be in this regard. As well, that the film is unrestrained by the (multiversal) baggage of the MCU as of late only makes it that much better of a concluding chapter for our ragtag anti-heroes that somehow became heroes without even really trying.

In some ways, Vol. 3 plays like one incredibly long series finale, a finale not just for the Guardians and their stories, but for this colossal franchise that probably cannot ever come back from the depths they have now sunk to in both story and visuals in these last four years. Gunn and the Guardians are gone and so now finally is the Marvel we once knew.

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